Short Stories Seminar

Around the World in Ten Tales

Level 1: Middle School Students

Level 2: High School Students


Course Schedule:

Spring Qtr: Jan./Feb. - April | Summer Qtr: June/July - Aug.

Fall Qtr: Sept. - Nov. | Winter Qtr: Nov. - Jan.

Class Length: 1 hour/week 

Class Size: 2-3 students per group for year-round courses

Dr. Kemick's Availability

Dr. Prusko's Availability

Please fill out the Inquiry & Waitlist Form to stay abreast of future classes or to arrange a group class with us.

Program Overview

As a sister program of our Great Books Seminar, which focuses on longer works like novels and plays, this course aims to help students become independent thinkers and confident writers through arguably the more approachable literary genre of short story.


Short stories are concentrated miniatures of human experience. More than other genres, the short story is known for a strong degree of focus and unity to carry the reader from the opening lines to the ending. It proceeds with a clear goal at a particular speed: within only a few pages, a full universe is revealed. The short story is also celebrated for its aesthetic flexibility: whether moving in a traditional linear narrative or taking a more disjunctive shape, it is adept at catching the mood of the time and the place.

This course consists of ten seminars, each focusing on one gem selected from the greatest works of short literature. Students will be guided to read ten timeless short stories from across cultures and societies, appreciate the diversity and generality of human experience, and develop intercultural competency to engage productively in global communities. Students will also learn to exercise the brevity and flexibility characteristic of the short story form in their own writing. 

Reading and writing assignments are carefully designed based on individuals’ needs and interests. Class sizes are kept small to ensure students receive the individual attention they need to effectively elevate their reading writing abilities. 

Mentor #1: Dr. Kemick


Dr. Kemick is an award-winning poet, journalist, and fiction writer. His new nonfiction book, I Am Herod, takes readers backstage and undercover at one of the world’s largest religious events. He is also the author of Caribou Run, a collection of poetry.


Dr. Kemick has published widely in all three genres, and his work has been included in anthologies in North America and Europe. He is the recipient of multiple awards including two National Magazine Awards.

Ph.D. in Creative Writing
Award-winning poet, journalist, and fiction writer

Mentor #2: Dr. Prusko

Ph.D. in English

Award-winning university educator

Shakespearean/early modern drama/children's literature scholar

profile pic_Polaris.jpg

Dr. Prusko is a university educator with over two decades’ experience teaching literature, writing, and communications courses. She is currently a lecturer in the Department of English and Film Studies at the University of Alberta. She is the recipient of a Faculty of Arts Teaching Award and the William Hardy Alexander Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. While teaching is her main focus, she also researches and publishes in the areas of Shakespeare, early modern drama, and children’s literature.

Sample Readings

Achebe, Chinua. "The Sacrificial Egg." 
Akutagawa, Ryunosuke. “In a Bamboo Grove.”
Atwood, Margaret. "Death by Landscape." 
Borges, Jorge Luis. "Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote." 
Chekhov, Anton. "Gusev." 

Chopin, Kate. "The Story of an Hour."

Danticat, Edwidge. "A Wall of Fire Rising." 
Doerr, Anthony. “The River Nemunas.”
Hualing, Nieh. "The Several Blessings of Wang Ta-nien."
Jhabvala, Ruth Prawer "Passion." 
Joyce, James. "Araby." 
Kafka, Franz. "The Metamorphosis." 
King, Thomas. “Borders.”
Le Guin​, Ursula K. "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas." 
Garcia Marquez, Gabriel.  "The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World." 
MacLeod, Alistair. “The Boat.”
Mistry, Rohinton. “Swimming Lessons.”
Mukherjee, Bharati. "Management of Grief." 
Poe, Edgar Allan. "The Fall of the House of Usher." 
Schweblin, Samanta. “Toward Happy Civilization.”
Walker, Alice. “Everyday Use.”

Homework & Feedback

The class will be structured around a close-reading of selected texts and a discussion of the complex questions they raise. The student will compose different writings that present a thoughtful, reflective exploration of each text for the instructor to critique. Upon completion of the course, each student will receive overall feedback from the instructor.


*Dr. Kemick*

"I enjoyed the much more in-depth and challenging discussion about the subjects. It was unbelievably helpful and really opened my eyes to what I could write. As for the instructor, I have never had an instructor or English teacher as compassionate, patient, knowledgeable, and articulate as Dr. Kemick. He has definitely played a big role in my writing journey, and has brought forth so many new ideas and thought processes to the table."


“I enjoyed the discussions and the questions that he asked us to answer and because I was doing it with my friends it made it more fun to talk and collaborate. The assignments that were assigned were very different than what I'm used to, but I really enjoyed them because they were creative writing. Our instructor Mr. Kemick is really nice and honestly makes you feel welcome to talk and he was fun to listen to. He makes us answer questions so we can teach each other.”


"​I did enjoy the course; I really liked how flexible it was and how the instructor would adjust the syllabus based on our personal needs and always asked for our opinions on homework assignments and reading material. The instructor’s greatest strengths were the questions he asked us during class to lead us into further understanding and interpreting a certain story or article, since it really forced us to think deeper and process what we were reading, and it also taught us that in the future, we can ask those questions to ourselves to help digest a piece of writing. I also particularly liked how he would give us very straight-to-the-point feedback, both good and bad, to help us realize our shortcomings and help us improve for next time."​

"I really enjoyed the deep and thoughtful conversations that we had on the different books.  This class really was an eye opener into the world of classical literature and I liked the variety of books that we were able to read and discuss.  Dr. Kemick is phenomenal at encouraging conversation and deep thinking."

"I really enjoyed the course in general. The teacher made me look forward to the classes each week, and on top of that, I learned a ton of new information. I think the course was pretty much perfect, and I do not have any suggestions for how to improve it."


"I enjoyed this course. Dr. Kemick was very straightforward in letting me know what he wanted. His methods are clear, concise, and easy to understand. In my opinion, his lack of sugarcoating is one of his strengths. His lessons were beneficial for letting me write more descriptive essays"

"Mr. Kenwick is a very experienced instructor. He is good at engaging his students to participate in class discussion and delivering the lecture in a way which won’t make his audience feel bored. My daughter enjoyed attending his class."

*Dr. Prusko*

“Dr. Prusko embraces and celebrates innovative and novel ideas, which allows her students to truly thrive in their own explorations of literature. She has been a huge inspiration in both the academic and personal facets of my life.”

“The writing methods she introduced have proven to be invaluable across a variety of subjects and situations; when my friends are struggling with their writing, I recommend the techniques I learned from Dr. Prusko. Her enthusiasm and skill are truly remarkable.”

“I absolutely loved this course. Dr. Prusko is an amazing teacher who really cares about her students and takes time to make sure they understand the material. She is always willing to help and provide constructive feedback and is great at promoting class community and discussion.”

“Dr. Prusko is an incredible teacher and clearly knowledgeable and passionate about literature. Her class was challenging, but she provided constructive and helpful feedback and really encouraged us to do our best. She encouraged class discussions which were always interesting and helpful to the topic we were discussing.”

“I found myself working hard in this class because I felt compelled by the topic, and because I felt Dr. Prusko was very invested in our advancement in the class.”

“I think that the way Dr. Prusko is prepared, honest, humorous, and knowledgeable made learning more interesting and I enjoyed it. She was easily my best teacher.”